Stymying Rundle. Seasoned researchers obliged to use News Corp’s “Newstext” search portal for the News Ltd archives have long believed that the interface could not get any worse. It is poorly designed, with the search request form having to be re-completed from scratch if anything is changed, and no facility to sort the items returned by relevance, length or anything but date, it is disastrous. But it has excelled itself with the latest reorganisation, in which an article search in The Australian will return up to 20 different versions of the same story — separately listing the same item from seven different state and territory editions of the paper, and the first or second edition of each. Since each search returns only 200 items per search, it is nearly impossible to get an accurate picture of reportage on a popular topic. Thus, a search for, say, “Bill Shorten” over a three-month period will turn up several thousand articles. Amazingly, they did not write that much about ol’ Bill — the hundred or so pieces that mention him are sorted into innumerable sub-editions. It is brilliant, it is a research prevention device, and could only have been brought to you by News Corp, those savvy folks who b(r)ought you Myspace. Fix, for godssake. — Guy Rundle
Saving Lateline. A public petition calling on the ABC’s board and Malcolm Turnbull to keep Lateline has gathered an astonishing 35,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. Started by former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes and supported by the Community and Public Sector Union and Friends of the ABC, it says the broadcaster’s current affairs coverage is crucial to keeping an eye on politicians.
“A strong democracy requires a strong media … Don’t let our national broadcaster’s current affairs face the chopping block.”
It dovetails with another petition also being presented to the ABC board on the issue by the organisation’s current affairs staff.
Perhaps it’s no wonder the petition has found such fertile support — today’s Essential poll shows it’s a serious concern to nearly 25% of the population, though, perhaps unsurprisingly, Coalition voters aren’t as fussed.
Of those polled by Essential, 53% express concern about cuts to the ABC’s news and current affairs programming, including 25% who said they were “very concerned”, while 39% said they weren’t concerned. But a majority of Coalition voters were relaxed: 34% of Coalition voters were concerned but 57% said they weren’t. Concern was a little softer among Other/PUP voters but still 57%-39%. — Myriam Robin and Bernard Keane
Watching the ABC from Laos (Pt 2). On Friday, we brought you the observation’s of one of Crikey‘s Laos-based readers who happens to be an avid ABC watcher. Well, the Australia Network has been turned off, and he’s kindly emailed again with what he’s able to watch now on Australia Plus, the ABC’s replacement service. “I woke this morning here in Laos, switched on the channel formerly showing Australia Network, and found to my delight that Australia Plus was showing the news.” This was followed by Giggle and Hoot, no doubt a relief to some parents out there. Mind you, he notes, a narrow range of programs seems to be on loop. “Better than repeats of Home and Away but surely there’s more to show than only three hours of talent on loop,” he said.
Not all expats are so lucky — viewers in Cambodia don’t have the service yet, and those in Thailand need a cable package to watch it, according to posts on the Australia Plus Facebook page. If you find yourself overseas with a hankering for the ABC, your best bet may be to stream it online. — Myriam Robin
Front page of the day. Protesters clash with police in Hong Kong.